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The Climb is Changing

Te Urewera huts: Federated Mountain Clubs backs Ngāi Tūhoe's 'enlightened' plans

Te Waiotukapiti hut in Te Ureweras has historic status and is a rare totara-slab hut built in the 1950s as a base for deer cullers. Photo: Supplied / Pete Shaw

The Federated Mountain Clubs says people should be excited, not anxious, about Ngāi Tūhoe's plans for new huts in Te Uruwera.

The Tūhoe settlement entity, Te Uru Taumatua, is dismantling and replacing 48 derelict huts - leading to protest from hapū, trampers, hunters and conservationists.

Te Uru Taumatua is the operational entity of iwi Ngāi Tūhoe, which took over the day-to-day management of Te Urewera from the Department of Conservation in 2014.

A protest at Tāneatua this week attracted around 200 people with many complaining about the loss of the huts some of which have been on sites for 60 years.

About 200 people gathered in Tāneatua to protest the removal of Te Urewera Department of Conservation backcountry huts. Photo: Supplied / John Brown

However, the mountain clubs' president, Robin McNeill, said while some members were sad about the recent loss of the huts, he has faith in Tūhoe's long-term vision of a different back-country hut experience.

"Our understanding is they've got some enlightened thinking of what new huts and uses of huts will be that's going to challenge traditional hut users but once they get used to it they'll be really impressed."

He said the Department of Conservation was the Crown representative on the board and was meant to foster recreation.

"We represent 22,000 members and generally most of the back country recreationalists in New Zealand tramping.

"We would have thought they would have given us the courtesy of talking to us."

The group will meet with Tūhoe next month to clarify the plans and and discuss timelines for further hut removals and replacements.

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